You’ll find Effingham Golf Club located between Leatherhead and Guildford, in the heart of the North Downs. Laid across free-draining downland, this unsung Harry Colt-designed course occupies a generous 264-acre site from where there are panoramic views of the London skyline and the chalky escarpment of the Chiltern Hills.
Routed in two distinct nine-hole loops, the course measures a respectable 6,800 yards from the back (black tee) markers, but even the white tee yardage (6,597 yards) tested many top golfers when Open Championship Regional Qualifying was held at Effingham Golf Club from 2006 to 2010.
Effingham is a course fashioned in the spirit of the Golden Age, but the club is not resting on its laurels, having engaged the services of Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie and Ebert, to ensure this classic design is not only true to its Harry Colt roots, but also a modern day challenge. In 2013, a new 451-yard par four home hole was unveiled along with a redesigned green at the par four 5th.
Tom Mackenzie mentioned: “Effingham is another example of Harry Colt’s skills at laying out holes on hilly ground in a way that golfers find themselves at the top of the Downs without feeling like they have played an uphill hole. The downland turf also makes it a true 12-month of the year course.”
Fairway bunkers have been removed with additional bunkers constructed to affect the longer players. New bunkers have been created to heighten the challenge around the putting surfaces, with redesigned greens introduced at the par four 5th and newly extended 18th, which has been extended to 451 yards from the back tees.
Mature trees line many fairways and they are always dazzling in their glorious autumn colours, but they were not so abundant in Harry Colt’s day. However, rarely do these woody obstacles obstruct the line of play and the club has embarked on a bold woodland management programme to protect the integrity of the putting surfaces.
With many strong holes at Effingham it’s hard to single one out, but we like the tough one-shot 7th that’s ringed with bunkers. With out-of-bounds on the left and a tricky-to-find green, it’s a hole where a three marked on the card will be savoured. Don’t forget to enjoy the far-reaching views of the Chiltern Hills before leaving the tee.
There is so much to enjoy at Effingham with its excellent drainage, firm and fast surfaces, rolling topography and pleasant short walks between greens and tees. The elegant Georgian clubhouse also provides the warmest of welcomes.
With recent renovation work now completed, Effingham Golf Club has been selected by England Golf to host the Senior Men’s County Championship Finals in 2019.
There is plenty to enjoy at Effingham. As has been mentioned, the bunkering is excellent - I visited 6 or 7 of them in the round just to sample :). Quite a few back to front/sideslope greens made 2 putting a real challenge in places. Par 3s would be the highlight, 4, 7 and 13 stand out. There is a great feeling of seclusion and spaciousness and some tangly rough to be visited.
However, it doesn’t quite make top 100 England for me. Tee markers were laid out 20 yards apart and with some wide fairways many times felt like hitting another drive with little strategic thought. Some holes felt too simple (2nd, 8th) with neither drive nor second shot feeling particularly exciting or challenging. A few fairways had some quite bare lies which was surprising given recent rain and lush grass around.
The inclusion of Effingham in Golf World Magazine’s recent “Top 100 golf courses of England” peaked my interest in this Surrey downland course located just outside the London Orbital.
If ever there was an example of bunkering on a golf course that elevated the layout from being good to excellent Effingham must surely be it. This is almost exclusively thanks to the work of leading golf architecture firm, Mackenzie & Ebert, who recently enhanced this classic Harry Colt course with truly spectacular results.
Played over chalky downland terrain on a large property the bunkering brings the course to life; both on drives and approach shots. It’s a long time since I’ve been as impressed with a bunker scheme on a golf course as I was at Effingham when I visited in early June 2019.
The clean and simple, though rarely straight, outlines to the hazards have a real sharpness to them which are visually impressive, especially with the near-white sand making them really stand out. They are also extremely well placed strategically from the tee and merge into the wonderful green complexes exceptionally well.
The playing corridors are generous at Effingham with long wispy grass – which was quite playable from on my visit – acting as a buffer before you may reach the established woodland.
The front-nine loops around arable land in a huge circle. There is a real sensation of space and isolation as we tread the opening loop. It’s possible to get off to a fast start with a par-five opener followed by two short par-fours but from there on you must play some good golf if you wish to make a score. The back-nine is a little more condensed but is still golf on a big scale although the firm turf ensures it never becomes a slog.
One of the things I enjoyed here was that on many drives you had a perception of where you were going but you couldn’t always see where your ball ended up. This is due to the rising and falling downland where Colt has routed the course to leave the golfer with a sense of anticipation.
The entire consistency of the bunkering, and the course itself for that matter, is one of Effingham’s trump cards. Because of this selecting any stand-out holes is not easy but likewise there are no poor holes either…
I’m sure this is a course we will hear a lot more about over the coming years... And with fantastic views of London and the Chilterns there is very little to dislike at this true Surrey gem.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.